Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses - Tennessee

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Birth Parent Expenses Allowed

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-109(a)(1)(B)

Payment of the following expenses is permitted:

  • Reasonable charges or fees for hospital or medical services for the birth of the child
  • Medical care or other reasonable birth-related expenses for the mother or child
  • Reasonable counseling fees for the parent or adoptive parents of the child
  • Reasonable legal fees
  • Reasonable and actual expenses for housing, food, maternity clothing, child's clothing, utilities, or transportation for a reasonable period of time

The expenses must be incurred directly in connection with the maternity, birth, and/or placement of the child for adoption, for legal services or legal proceedings directly related to the adoption of the child, or for counseling for a period of up to 1 year for the parent who surrenders the child or consents to the adoption of the child.

The payment may be only for expenses or costs actually incurred during the time periods specified above, but the actual payment or receipt of payment for expenses or costs may be made later.

Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-109(a)(1)(B)

Payment of living expenses is not permitted, without court approval, beyond a reasonable period not to exceed 90 days prior to the birth of the child or 45 days after the child's birth or surrender for adoption.

Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 36-1-108(a); 37-5-507

No person, corporation, agency, or other entity except the Department of Children's Services, a licensed child-placing agency, or licensed clinical social worker shall engage in the placement of children for adoption. This section shall not be construed to prohibit any person from advising parents of a child or prospective adoptive parents of the availability of adoption or from acting as an agent or attorney for the parents of a child or prospective adoptive parents in making necessary arrangements for adoption as long as no remuneration, fees, contributions, or things of value are given to or received from any person or entity for such service other than usual and customary legal and medical fees in connection with the birth of the child or other pregnancy-related expenses, for counseling for the parents and/or the child, and for the legal proceedings related to the adoption.

Private individuals, including midwives, physicians, nurses, hospital officials, lawyers, and the officials of any nonchartered or nonlicensed child-caring institution, child-placing agency, or maternity home are forbidden to engage in placing children for temporary care or for adoption.

Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-109(a)(1)(A)

It is unlawful for any person to sell or surrender a child to another person for anything of value.

It is unlawful for any person, having the rights and duties of a parent or guardian with respect to the care and custody of a minor child, to assign or transfer such parental or guardianship rights for the purpose of, incidental to, or otherwise connected with, selling, or offering to sell such rights and duties for money or anything of value.

Allowable Fees Charged by Department/Agency

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-108(d)(2), (d)(5)

The department shall maintain an informational database of fees charged by licensed agencies for home studies, placement services, counseling, and legal fees. The information is available to a prospective adoptive parent upon written request.

The department is specifically authorized to disclose to prospective adoptive parents or other interested persons any fees charged by any licensed child-placing agency, licensed clinical social worker, attorney, counseling service, or counselor for all legal and counseling services provided by that licensed child-placing agency, licensed clinical social worker, attorney, counseling service, or counselor.

Accounting of Expenses Required by Court

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-116(b)(16)

The petition to adopt must state the following:

  • Whether the petitioners have paid, or promised to pay, any money, fees, contributions, or other remuneration or thing of value in connection with the birth, placement, or adoption of the child, and if so, to or from whom, the specific amount, and the specific purpose for which these were paid or promised
  • Whether any attorney's fees, medical expenses, counseling fees, other expenses permitted under §§ 36-1-108 and 36-1-109, or any other fees, remuneration, or contribution, were paid or promised in connection with the child's birth, placement, or adoption, and if so, to whom, the specific amount and the specific purpose for which they were paid or promised
  • The amount of fees paid to any licensed child-placing agency or licensed clinical social worker in connection with the placement of the child